Skip to main content

Township traces its roots to 1714, research finds

12/24/2013 11:07AM, Published by ACL, Categories:


Dr. Margaret “Peg” Jones of the New Garden Township Historical Commission speaks at a presentation on Dec. 17, that shared findings tracing the township's origins to 1714.



By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer


During their Dec. 16 meeting, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors signed a proclamation stating that the origins of the township date back to 1714. That was the easy part; the research in uncovering the proof of the date took the township's Historical Commission through a maze of documents and archives.    

Before the board and nearly 40 township residents, historical commission member Dr. Margaret “Peg” Jones and associate member Chris Robinson gave a presentation about their search to locate the earliest document containing the date and the words “New Garden Township.” The initiative was to investigate the original research that stated that the township was founded in 1700, which was signed into proclamation in 1981 by Sen. Dominic Pileggi as part of the Commonwealth's 300thanniversary.

The reason for the erroneous date may have been directly traced to when the area the township now encompasses was included in a survey made “about 1700” for the 30,000 acres owned by William Penn, Jr., and his sister, Letitia. 

Historically, a township was "incorporated," "settled," "chartered,""'founded" or established by existing landowners petitioning a county to downsize their tax collection area to a more manageable area. But where was that petition – commonly known as a court decree, and when did it first say, “New Garden Township”?

In contrast to New Garden, other area townships have long-established incorporation dates: Kennett Township was established in 1705, London Britain in 1725; London Grove in 1723; and Franklin in 1852. 

Working with the Chester County Archives, Jones and Robinson researched all legal documents that pertained to the area that is now New Garden, from the years 1700 to 1720. The period was chosen based on historical evidence that proved the area was rich in settlers, many of whom would have had their land surveyed.  

The problem that the researchers encountered was that the official court decree that gave the area's residents the status of  Township is lost, and no record of it exists in the County Archives. In addition, they said, Chester County court records from 1682 to 1710 contain no evidence of a New Garden Township. Their research also came across the earliest known land patent in the vicinity of what is now New Garden Township, one issued in 1708 to Mary Rowland, who was identified in the document as being a resident of  “Penn Jr. Manor.” By 1714, at least 6,000 acres were sold to settlers in Penn Jr. Manor. 

During 1710-13, a period when court decrees might have created documents that read New Garden Township, Robinson could not track down clear evidence of the township's existence by name.

After additional research and assistance from the Chester County archivist, Robinson eventually found what he was looking for. In a General Quarter Sessions document issued on May 25, 1714, under the heading, “Township,” it states that John Rentfro served as constable for New Garden. The document was located at the Chester County Archives in a binder that contained the records from Quarter Session from May 1710 to May 1723. 

Robinson also found a land deed using the words, New Garden Township, dated to 1715, “so we know very well that New Garden Township was in existence at the time that deed was executed,” Jones said. “The commission really feels that if we’re going to have a date, that we can best say that New Garden Township was established in 1714.”

The Historical Commission chose to share their research before the end of the year to thank the board for their support, as well as to allow for the signatures of outgoing board members Bob Perrotti and Bob Norris, each of whom are ending their terms on the board at the end of the month – to be able to sign the proclamation “on their watch.”

Robinson said that he found the uncovering of the 1714 date “satisfactorily definitive and coincidentally jubilant,” especially given that 2014 will mark the tri-centennial of New Garden Township.

“As a historical detective novice, this research was fascinating and rewarding,” Robinson said. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with Dr. Peggy Jones, using the invaluable assistance of the Chester County archivists Cliff Parker and Kim Bucklaw, and having the ongoing enthusiasm of the New Garden Historical Commission and assistance from member Mary Sproat.

“For those interested in sleuthing historical conundrums and for untold stories rooted in Chester County, I encourage them to do so,” he added. “It is fun! There's lots of accessible data in Chester County archives. All one needs is someone to 'connect the documents.'”


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



new garden township new garden township board of supervisors senator dominic pileggi new garden historical commission


  • Sunny Summer Container

    06/23/2017
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    Use bold foliage as the focal point for a summer container that steals the show. Interweave softe...


  • Test123

    06/23/2017
    03:30PM

    Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some ...


  • Chester County Balloon Festival

    06/23/2017
    04:00PM — 10:00PM

    The Chester County Balloon Festival is known as a must-attend event! We are proud to be a non-pro...


  • Summer Nights

    06/23/2017
    04:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays in June, Mt. Cuba Center extends its hours for Summer Nights. Unwind from your week an...


  • Classical Guitar Virtuoso Brad Rau

    06/23/2017
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Classical Guitar Virtuoso Brad Rau Friday June 23rd 2017 Kreutz Creek Wine Tasting Room 44 Ea...


  • 1st Annual Reactors Delaware county Comedy Competition. Held every Friday in June with the final...


  • Bird Walk

    06/24/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Newlin Grist Mill and Wild Birds Unlimited-Concordville are teaming up to explore the wonderful w...


  • Vegetable Breeding Workshop

    06/24/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Over the course of the two days of this workshop you will learn the importance of vegetable breed...


  • Best Summer Kids Camps in Chester County!

    06/24/2017
    09:00AM — 12:30PM

    2017 SUMMER KIDS HALF-DAY CAMP IN CHESTER SPRINGS, CHESTER COUNTY: One Week of Half-Day Art & C...


  • Milburn’s Pancake Breakfast!

    06/24/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Farmer Jay whipping up pancakes!


  • History at Work: "Woodturning"

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Join us each month as we explore historic skills and trades with our "History at Work" demonstrat...


  • Wild Mushroom Foraging

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 12:30PM

    Many species of magnificent mushrooms may be growing in your own back yard. Join Tug DeLuce of th...


  • Milburn’s Very Cherry Harvest Party!

    06/24/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    No Hands Allowed!


  • Pop-Up Naturalist: "Pond Life"

    06/24/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Join Newlin's staff naturalist for an afternoon of exciting environmental activities. Look for th...


  • Test123

    06/24/2017
    03:30PM

    Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some ...


  • Chester County Balloon Festival

    06/24/2017
    04:00PM — 10:00PM

    The Chester County Balloon Festival is known as a must-attend event! We are proud to be a non-pro...


  • The Sin City Band "Unplugged"

    06/24/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    It's a rare chance to hear The Sin City Band perform in an intimate setting and unplugged. The Si...


  • Test123

    06/26/2017
    03:30PM

    Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some ...


  • A classic new Indian restaurant with fine dining, banquet hall and a café is opening on the 26th ...


  • Art & Inspiration: Summer Art Camp

    06/26/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Join us on four fun-filled nights for Art and Inspiration. Beginning Sunday, June 25th at 7 p.m...


  • Best Summer Kids Camps in Chester County!

    06/27/2017
    09:00AM — 12:30PM

    2017 SUMMER KIDS HALF-DAY CAMP IN CHESTER SPRINGS, CHESTER COUNTY: One Week of Half-Day Art & C...


  • Test123

    06/27/2017
    03:30PM

    Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some ...


  • Art & Inspiration: Summer Art Camp

    06/27/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Join us on four fun-filled nights for Art and Inspiration. Beginning Sunday, June 25th at 7 p.m...


  • Best Summer Kids Camps in Chester County!

    06/29/2017
    09:00AM — 12:30PM

    2017 SUMMER KIDS HALF-DAY CAMP IN CHESTER SPRINGS, CHESTER COUNTY: One Week of Half-Day Art & C...


  • Milkweeds for Monarchs

    06/29/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Help our monarch butterfly populations survive and reproduce by planting native milkweeds. David ...


  • Test123

    06/29/2017
    03:30PM

    Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some description here, Some ...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    06/29/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Trivia Nights at Kennett Square Applebee's

    06/29/2017
    09:00PM — 11:00PM

    Start your studying for trivia nights at the Kennett Square Applebee’s! Trivia nights will be hel...


Chester County High School Sports